Cat News Nr 52


Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids

Have you recently received an e-mail from David Macdonald, starting with “we’re thrilled to tell you that…”? If so, you are likely one of 128 contributors to the new book “Biology and Conservation of Wild Felids”. It is not usual that book reviews are found on Page 1 of Cat News, but the publication of this book is such a milestone in cat conservation that it should be an upfront event in our newsletter.

The process started three years ago with the largest ever felid research and conservation conference: 300 cat experts gathered in September 2007 in Oxford to discuss the recent findings and urgent challenges. Many of the presentations at the Oxford conference were then used as the base for a comprehensive book on the biology and conservation of felids. The result is a most impressive book edited by David Macdonald and Andy Loweridge and published in May 2010 by Oxford University Press: On 763 pages, the editors present 29 chapters written by 128 authors. The 9 chapters of Part I are reviews, starting with a dramatis personae, a complete account of all 36 felid species, written by the editors and Kristin Nowell, followed by chapters on phylogeny and evolution, felid form and function, genetic applications, felid societies, management and conflicts, conservation and research techniques, ex situ programmes, and wild felid diseases.

Part II presents 19 case studies on lions, tigers, leopards, cheetahs, jaguars, snow leopard, pumas, wildcat, Eurasian lynx, Iberian lynx, Canada lynx, black-footed cat, ocelot, and Andean cat. As important as the list of species is the variety of topics covered, which range from research and ecology to diseases, small populations and conflicts with humans, to conservation and adaptive management. These case studies offer innovative ideas and potential solutions for all felid species, all landscapes, and all human-wild felid relationships. In a comprehensive final chapter, the two editors, joined by Alan Rabinowitz, discuss the future of felids in an inter-disciplinary and farsighted approach.

This book is a state-of-the-art compilation of our knowledge on wild cats and how to conserve them. We agree with David and Andy, who write in their preface: “When we started we thought we knew quite a lot about felids, but we surely know a lot more now—and we believe that for years to come this will be the experience of anybody who reads these pages.”

Urs Breitenmoser and Christine Breitenmoser-Würsten

Does the fishing cat inhabit Laos by J. W. Duckworth, T. Stones, R. Tizard, S. Watson and J. Wolstencroft

No fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus record from Laos is supported by specimen or photograph. Historical reports derive only from works replete with major errors. Recent reports based only on tracks and/or villagers’ reports cannot be assessed for reliability. Of three recent field sightings, one was probably a leopard cat P. bengalensis, one was seen too poorly for identification, but one was seen well and characters noted fit fishing cat. It was in a fast river through degraded hill evergreen forest. This habitat may be atypical for the species and the site may be unusually far inland: a critical review of South-east Asian distribution is needed. Typical 1990s-2000s mammal surveys in Laos were probably unsuited to detecting fishing cat: Lao status will remain unclear pending targeted survey. Further claims of this cat in Laos – indeed, inland South-east Asia – require documentation of evidence for identification.

A fishing cat observation from northern Cambodia by H. J. Rainey and K. Kong

A fishing cat Prionailurus viverrinus was photographed by a targeted camera trap in Kulen Promtep Wildlife Sanctuary, northern Cambodia in 2003. The robust build and combination of features confirm identification. It was located in deciduous dipterocarp forest, close to floodplain grassland approximately 260 m from a permanently flowing river. There are few other observations of the Endangered fishing cat in Cambodia and this may be the first observation in the wild. Other confirmed observations have been from captive individuals on the Tonle Sap lake and in the south-western forests. Identifying sites at which this species is present should be a priority as this species is poorly known.

Melanistic marbled cat from Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, Sumatra, Indonesia by H. T. Wibisono and J. McCarthy

In recent decades there have been an increasing number of camera trap studies occurring throughout Southeast Asia. Although not the target species, photographs of marbled cats are occasionally recorded and may give insight to some aspects of the species’ ecology. Here we report on a series of camera trap photographs that were recorded of a melanistic marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata in Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park (BBSNP), in southeastern Sumatra. These photos constitute the first documented indication of melanism in marbled cats.

Marbled cat in Sabangau peat-swamp forest, Indonesian Borneo by S. M. Cheyne and D. W. Macdonald

As part of an ongoing project to identify and assess the distribution and population status of Bornean felids in the Sabangau peat-swamp forest, Central Kalimantan, Indonesia, a marbled cat Pardofelis marmorata has been photographed for the frist time. The marbled cat is classified as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List 2008.

Observations of the flat-headed cat from Sarawak, Malaysia by M. Gumal, D. Kong, J. Hon, N. Juat and S. Ng

Direct sightings of the flat-headed cat Prionailurus planiceps were recorded in Loagan Bunut National Park and Maludam National Park in Sarawak, Malaysia during field surveys between 2004 and 2006. These were incidental sightings during field surveys for primates, birds and bats. A trapped flat-headed cat was released in Maludam National Park and its swimming behaviour was photographed. The predominant habitat at Loagan Bunut National Park and Maludam National Park is seasonally flooded peat swamp forest.

Supporting Online Material:

Table 1

Observations of flat-headed cat in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo by A. J. Hearn, J. Ross, B. Goossens, M. Ancrenaz and L. Ambu

Despite being one of only six wild cat species currently classified by the IUCN as Endangered, the flat-headed cat Prionailurus planiceps has received relatively little conservation attention and is arguably the least known of all the world’s wild cats. Camera traps are increasingly being used throughout the historical range of this species (Peninsular Thailand and Malaysia, Borneo and Sumatra), yet it is infrequently recorded, raising concern as to its status (Wilting et al. 2010). Here we provide details of three recent observations of flat-headed cats in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS), a protected, but highly fragmented and degraded collection of forest patches along the Kinabatangan river, in Sabah, Malaysian Borneo.

Leopard cat at high altitude in Makalu-Barun National Park, Nepal by Y. Ghimirey and B. Ghimire

A camera trapping survey in Makalu-Barun National Park in eastern Nepal has yielded the picture of a leopard cat Prionailurus bengalensis at 3254 m above sea level – which is the highest documented record for the species. The image was taken on 19 November 2009 10:05 PM at 27°48.344’N/87°16.012’E. The habitat is dominated by rhododendron-oak-maple associations.

Small carnivore conservation workshop in Southeast Asia by W. Chutipong, D. Ngoprasert, N. Tantipisanuh, A. J. Lynam, P. Cutter, D. Reed and N. Bhumpakphan

Otters and some species of wild cats are at serious risk of extirpation in Southeast Asia, according to a recent meeting of small carnivore experts in Bangkok.

Sabah Wildlife Department hosts inaugural workshop on Bornean wild cats by J. Ross, A. J. Hearn, H. Bernard, A. Tuuga

An inaugural workshop on the Bornean wild cats was held in Penampang, Sabah, Malaysian Borneo on the 4-5 November, 2009. The international workshop, entitled First Steps Towards the Conservation of Wild Cats in Sabah, provided a forum to discuss recent research and conservation needs of the Bornean wild cats and to begin formulating felid focused conservation strategies in Sabah.

Cats living with pandas - The status of wild felids within giant panda range, China by S. Li, D. Wang, Z. Lu and W. J. Mcshea

From 2002 - 2009, we conducted a camera-trapping survey in 11 nature reserves of the five mountain ranges within current giant panda distribution for a total sampling effort of 19,151 camera-days. Four felid species were recorded: Panthera pardus, Panthera uncia, Catopuma temminckii, and Prionailurus bengalensis. We found no significant correlation between the sampling effort and photographic rates of small felids, or medium- and large-sized felids, but a positive correlation between the photographic rates of medium- and large-sized felids and large-sized prey species. A well-designed systemic monitoring network using camera-trapping would be the best approach to obtain the critical information needed for setting felid conservation goals in China.

Supporting Online Material:

Table 1

First photograph of a clouded leopard at Pakke Tiger Reserve, India by J. Borah, T. Sharma, S. Lyngdoh and T. Tapi

The clouded leopard Neofelis nebulosa which is reported from countries of South East Asia is a rare felid and very little information is available from its geographic range. We present here the first instance of photo-capturing clouded leopard by camera traps in Assam Valley tropical semi-evergreen forest of Pakke Tiger Reserve, Arunachal Pradesh, India. Habitat destruction and hunting are the main threats that these animals face and strict regulations is needed to save these beautiful felid.

Kodkod: guigna or pampas cat? by J. Sanderson

The common name kodkod is sometimes used in place of the common name guigna (gween-ya) when referring to Leopardus guigna. In the region where the guigna occurs, most Argentineans and Chileans use the term huiña (ween-ya); the term kodkod is never used. This curious fact begs the question: what is the origin of the term kodkod and what wild cat does it refer to?

Study on isolated jaguar population in eastern Paraguay by R. McBride

In 2007, a camera trap study was initiated on two different private reserves located in Canindeyu Department in the Atlantic Subtropical Forest of Eastern Paraguay: Morombi Private Natural Preserve and Mbaracayu Forest Natural Preserve. Spot patterns from camera trap photos revealed the presence of three adult jaguars Panthera onca on the Morombi reserve and a minimum of four adult jaguars on the Mbaracayu reserve.

New records of pampas cat for Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil by M. N. Godoi, R. Teribele, R. Bianchi, N. Olifiers, H. V. B. Concone and N. L. X. Filho

The pampas cat Leopardus colocolo is a small-sized, threatened felid that is poorly investigated. Even basic information about its geographic distribution is lacking. Herein, we present photographic records of pampas cat from two new localities of Cerrado and Pantanal biomes in the Mato Grosso do Sul State, Brazil, and also the current distribution of the species in this state. The records presented here contribute to the understanding of the geographic distribution of the pampas cat in the different biomes of Brazil.

Lion conservation workshop in Ethiopia by R. Gebresenbet, H. Bauer, L. Hunter and K. Gebretensae

As a first step to lion conservation in Ethiopia, a first National Lion Conservation Workshop was convened by the Flemish Interuniversity Council, Mekelle University, Panthera, Born Free Foundation and the Ethiopian Wildlife Conservation Authority (EWCA). It was conducted on 12 June, 2009 in Addis Ababa.

Workshop on the conservation of the Asiatic cheetah by U. Breitenmoser, Ch. Breitenmoser-Würsten and M. von Arx

Representatives of the Department of Environement of I. R. Iran, UNDP office Iran and international conservation organisations met in the Swiss Alps at the end of March 2010 to develop an Action Plan for the conservation of the Asiatic cheetah in Iran.

First camera trap pictures of Eurasian lynx from Turkey by H. Ambarli, D. Mengüllüoglu and C. C. Bilgin

Studying cryptic animals require dedicated field work and careful planning depending on the habitat and behavior of the target animal. However, use of camera traps now provides a non-invasive technique to detect and monitor wildlife, especially nocturnal carnivores; it can also be used to estimate population sizes of animals with special markings or patterns. We have used systematic and opportunistic camera trapping in central and northeastern Turkey, respectively, to inventory local carnivore fauna. Our surveys yielded six Eurasian Lynx Lynx lynx photos in Artvin, and eight in Ankara, constituting the first time this species was documented by camera traps in Turkey.

Cat Conservation Course 2010 by J. UD Din

Four candidates from China, Pakistan, Iran, and Georgia joint the Cat Specialist Group and its hosting organisation KORA in February/March 2010 in Switzerland for a three weeks training course in cat conservation.

Lion status updates from five range countries in West and Central Africa by P. Henschel, D. Azani, C. Burton, G. Malanda, Y. Saidu, M. Sam and L. Hunter

The lion Panthera leo is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species and the species’ current status raises increasing concern among lion specialists across its African range. The situation is particularly alarming in West and Central Africa, where as few as 1000-2850 lions might remain, and where it is considered regionally Endangered in West Africa. Here we present results from lion surveys conducted in 2006-2010, covering 12 Lion Conservation Units (LCUs) in West Africa and three LCUs in Central Africa. We were able to confirm lion presence in only two of the LCUs surveyed in West Africa, and in none of the LCUs surveyed in Central Africa. Our results raise the possibility that no resident lion populations exist in Congo, Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

Supporting Online Material:

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